You are what you eat—and a DEXA scan can prove it. 

Is a plant-based diet the key to health and longevity? Does what you eat really matter if you have “good genes?” These are the questions at the heart of Netflix’s latest foray into diet and wellness culture, You Are What You Eat: A Twin Experiment. And over the course of the docuseries, participants turn to body composition analysis from advanced technology, like DEXA scan, to find out.

Over the course of the four-part docuseries, viewers follow along as four pairs of identical twins take diverging nutritional paths, with one twin committing to a vegan diet and the other to an omnivore one. And the producers don’t just rely on anecdotal evidence to highlight the stark differences between two drastically different approaches to eating. Instead, they used advanced technology like DEXA scans to measure the fissures in cardiovascular and metabolic health between each pair over twins throughout the 8-week experiment.

What is a DEXA Scan?

The Dexa Scan (Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) was designed to precisely measure bone density and has evolved into a full-body composition analysis tool due to its precision in distinguishing between bones,  fat, and lean mass.  

The DEXA Scan machine functions by emitting two low-dose x-ray beams that can differentiate bones, muscle, and fat. The machine then produces detailed images across each region of your body, indicating your muscle:fat ratio and overall bone density.

DEXA body composition scan located in Hudson Health’s longevity medicine practice in New York City.

Why does body composition matter?

To a certain extent, you can assess your diet based on how you feel. Do you have more energy? Do you feel less brain fog? Are you sleeping better? Is your skin clearer? Your answers to all of these questions reveal whether or not you are on the right nutritional track. But perception can only take you so far. When it comes to making lasting metabolic and cardiovascular health progress, data is king.

On You Are What You Eat, each pair of twins completed a body composition analysis before embarking on their new lifestyle plans. The body composition tests visualize what’s actually happening beneath the surface–someone may feel physically fit, but a precise breakdown of body fat: lean muscle mass may reveal sneaky metabolic and cardiovascular health risks, including visceral fat. This type of fat lies deep, below the surface and around essential organs. A higher percentage of visceral fat indicates a higher likelihood of developing chronic health conditions, like type 2 diabetes. 

Not only are body composition tests necessary for sounding the alarm at early signs of chronic disease, but they also simplify the process of measuring results. No one can argue with data. Before-and-after visceral fat analysis, body fat and lean muscle mass % indicate whether or not your lifestyle changes are really making a difference in your overall health. Additionally, there’s a reason why every diet how-to article instructs readers to log their progress: it works. Tracking results over time contributes to motivation. When it comes to losing fat (or gaining muscle) there may be some weeks where the shifts are too minute to really feel. But data never lies.

The power of personalization.

No two bodies are exactly the same. As this show proves, even if you are a twin, varying lifestyles differentiate your physiology. The diets and fitness plans that work for some people may not work for others. And that’s okay. Your health and longevity doesn’t need aggregate anecdotes. It needs personalized insights. Here are a few things DEXA scans reveal about you:

  • Body fat %
  • Lean muscle mass
  • Muscle symmetry
  • Visceral fat
  • Fat Mass Index (fat in relation to your height)
  • Android to Gynoid ratio ( Also known as the apple to pear shape ratio. A breakdown of where fat is stored in your body. Android fat refers to fat around your belly and Gynoid fat refers to fat around your hips.)

As seen on You Are What You Eat, scales and BMI metrics are tools of the past, because your weight can only tell you so much about your health. DEXA scans are among the technologies paving the way for lasting metabolic and cardiovascular health improvement. Getting a complete picture of your muscular health, fat percentage, and chronic risk factors is the first step to achieving your weight goals and boosting your longevity. DEXA scans are among the technologies paving the way for lasting metabolic and cardiovascular health improvement.

Ready to learn more about your own body composition? Schedule your DEXA scan today.